Council's Open Space and Outdoor Recreation and Action Plan open for feedback: supports formalising illegal bike tracks in bush reserves and public parks - installing fitness equipment - developing a Dogs in Public Places Policy
Damage within the grassed area at Plateau Park, Bilgola - image supplied
The council has released for feedback its ‘Open Space and Outdoor Recreation and Action Plan’.
The draft document states the council supports making legal illegal tracks in bush reserves, where bike groups have shared a video of running over a wallaby on at least one occasion, been found to be riding over sacred sites along the same locations, and where numerous incidents of injured people having to be rescued have occurred in recent years, as well having plans to install bike facilities in local parks – such as Trafalgar at Newport, which had a concrete path cut right through its centre last year by the council.
Submissions close Sunday August 14th 2022 at: https://yoursay.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/open-space-and-recreation-strategy
The wide-ranging document also proposes there may be innovative golf related or compatible activities that could increase use of Avalon Golf Course, and camping may be back: the Draft states council could ‘Explore opportunities to make some parks, open spaces and car parks available for limited camping and/or caravans at peak holiday times.’
The Northern Beaches Open Space and Outdoor Recreation Strategy and Action Plan Draft - June 2022 also states council should continue to explore opportunities for shared use of bowling club facilities on Council land as they arise.
The wide ranging document seeks feedback on implementing a prioritised program for installing fitness equipment on appropriate links and loops, and in locations where they will be most frequently used. Locations to be included are listed as: Lionel Watts Reserve, Belrose - Forestville War Memorial Playing Fields - Beverly Job Park, Narraweena - Manly Beach, - Tania Park, Balgowlah Heights - James Meehan Reserve, Dee Why - Middle Creek Reserve, North Narrabeen - Griffith Park, Collaroy - Cromer, Curl Curl Beach and Narrabeen Beach.
The draft also proposes to provide additional basketball facilities at appropriate locations as parks are reviewed for improvement to better meet need. The document states ‘’These may vary from quarter courts to full size and may include some lighting depending on need, available space and compatibility with other use and users and impact on residents.
Potential locations include: Tania Park, Balgowlah Heights - Jacka Park, Freshwater, court integrated with playground upgrade design -Whitney Reserve, Mona Vale - Bayview, e.g. Winnererremy Bay or Bayview Reserve - Killarney Heights Oval - Wyatt Avenue Reserve, Belrose and Beach locations e.g. consider Curl, Dee Why, Manly beachfront Consider lighting of some basketball courts at appropriate locations including improving lighting at the LM Graham Reserve court and also to consider opportunities for shared use of netball courts for basketball e.g. during the off season and when not required for training / competition. Potential locations include: Forestville Memorial Playing Fields/Melwood Oval; John Fisher Park, North Curl; Lionel Watts Reserve, Belrose
Other items listed are:
- Continuing to partner with the NSW State Government regarding shared access of school grounds and facilities and new parks
- Continue to seek funding from other tiers of government and explore corporate sector and other funding opportunities.
- Developing a Dogs in Public Places Policy (Dog Policy) in consultation with the community and identifying opportunities to improve to the provision of quality spaces for people to enjoy time outdoors with their dogs
- Consider opportunities for new dog off leash area(s) that meet community needs including in the Frenchs Forest Priority Growth Area to cater for a growing population and increasing dog ownership
- Consider an extension to the Jamieson Park building to provide additional storage for the sailing club in consultation with users and implement as agreed and when resources available
- Develop a new masterplan for Governor Phillip Park, Palm Beach and implement as agreed when resources and funding are made available
- Develop and implement a recreation plan for JJ Melbourne Hills Memorial Reserve to better accommodate and manage the varied recreational activities more effectively. The Masterplan is to consider the shared uses and needs of horses, field archery, bikes, astronomy and general community use and access. Specific needs are listed elsewhere in this Action Plan
- Develop a consolidated Generic Bushlands Plan of Management that supports sustainable recreational use
- Complete and implement the agreed landscape plan for Catherine Park, Scotland Island, based on community needs.
- Develop and implement a recreation plan for JJ Melbourne Hills Memorial Reserve to better accommodate and manage the varied recreational activities more effectively. The Masterplan is to consider the shared uses and needs of horses, field archery, bikes, astronomy and general community use and access. Specific needs are listed elsewhere in this Action Plan. Prepare/update leases and licences and other agreements for regular user groups at JJ Melbourne Hills Memorial Reserve as required, for Warringah Field Archers, Forest Hills Pony Club, Manly Warringah BMX Club and Northern Sydney Astronomical Society and other users as required.
- Develop and implement a landscape plan for Aquatic Reserve, Frenchs Forest, that identifies among other things: improvements to the baseball fields and facilities; improvements to reserve access and linkages; potential expansion of the skate area with a direct link to the pipeline trail; potential for basketball; needs to make the reserve event ready, e.g. for markets, council events; a mountain bike trail head; site signage; and additional tree planting and general environmental improvements.
- Investigate recreational opportunities at Addiscombe Road Reserve, Manly Vale, adjacent Manly Creek that aligns with the environmental management plan. Consider opportunities for bike use in this plan.
- Develop a landscape plan for Beverly Job Park, Narraweena, as a higher quality multi-purpose park, considering improvements to the dog off leash area and potential for youth facilities such as basketball multipurpose court and community garden. Not to impact on existing sport and dog off-leash areas.
- Identify and implement best practice approaches in order to manage high risk open space locations on the Northern Beaches, e.g. suicide hotspots. Establish a 'hot spot' response capacity that supports timely crime preventions at emerging locations, including open spaces, in partnership with Police. Investigate and implement improvements to responses to identified open space locations of crime and safety concerns as agreed.
- Consider a ‘good-neighbour’ approach to developing and managing recreation in open spaces near property boundaries.
- Develop a Memorandum of Understanding with the Sydney Paragliding and Hang Gliding Club (SPHGC) for use of agreed sites.
The ambitious draft plan lists almost 200 actions for our collective open spaces and outdoor recreation facilities across the area is now on exhibition for public feedback.
Mayor Michael Regan stated the strategy would make our open spaces and facilities even better over the next 15 years.
“From our beautiful beaches to our stunning foreshores, our green parklands to natural bushlands, there is so much open space on the Northern Beaches,”
“We want to protect and continue to improve and manage sustainably our open space and facilities so that current, future generations and visitors can continue to enjoy all the benefits green, open space provides. The health and wellbeing of all of us depends on it.” Mayor Regan said in the statement issued when the draft was put on exhibition.
The council states the draft strategy was developed following extensive consultation with key community groups, along with telephone surveys, written submissions, and targeted stakeholder engagement.
These included a telephone survey from June 2020 to July 2020 with 403 participants; participants were from a representative cross-section of the community, along with Stakeholder meetings and workshops from February 2020 to June 2020.
Workshops were conducted by Council with several key groups including: Disability and all abilities services, Places for People Strategic Reference Group, Manly Warringah War Memorial State Park Advisory Committee, Narrabeen Lagoon State Park Advisory Committee, Council’s Youth services, Off Road Cycling Stakeholder Group, Headspace Youth Advisory Committee, Seniors (via the Well to Wellbeing expo), Children - through Council’s Vacation Care and Pre School programs, Internal Council stakeholders, and Targeted stakeholder meetings with recreation clubs and resident and special interests groups.
The council states more than 4,000 people told council what places they love and what could be improved, meaning approximately 1.5% of residents were consulted. The population estimate for Northern Beaches Council area as of the 30th June 2021 is 264,481.
The feedback from the telephone survey found 87% of people liked walking (other than bushwalking) and 69% liked bushwalking, these two, along with swimming 75%, were the top three activities locals enjoy. Relaxing just by sitting or meditating came in 4th spot with 63% respondents stating that was their favourite activity, or not, in open spaces.
Council has developed a list of key actions to meet current and future needs, including:
- adding 7 new playgrounds at Parkes Road Reserve in Collaroy Plateau; Ashley Reserve in Fairlight; Brick Pit Reserve in Frenchs Forest; Fielding Reserve in Collaroy; Condover Reserve in North Balgowlah; Forestville Park and McDonald Street Road Reserve in North Manly.
So no new play spaces or playgrounds for Pittwater.
- upgrading playspaces to offer higher quality and more diverse play experiences that benefit a broad range of people, rather than smaller playgrounds/ playspaces that service a smaller catchment. This may include alternate facilities for older children and youth such as bike parks and basketball facilities
- developing new and improved mountain bike facilities and upgrading existing bike trails
The key action of 'developing new and improved mountain bike facilities' takes up a fair amount of the draft document.
While this is great news for all those passionate about this great sport or getting people off screens and outdoors, including all the primary and high school students who aced it at the Mountain Bike Interschools in March this year, messaging that all you have to do is push others out to get your way is not working locally - allowing the destruction of Plateau Park at Bilgola quickly led to youngsters telling others to stay out of ''their park'' and spread the destruction into protected and sensitive bush areas as well as along laneways and into other parks at Bilgola Plateau.
At Newport, the messaging out of council saw destruction in Crescent reserve, as well as Trafalgar park, and residents being threatened by not only the youngsters but their parents, who were also stating 'they owned the bush reserve'.
The same behaviour towards others has occurred at Elanora Heights and Narrabeen, and there too habitat has been destroyed in bush reserves as well.
Window smashed at a family home in Narrabeen by rocks thrown for objecting to the swearing and behaviour of another illegal MTB pump track next door; family with young children threatened - photo supplied
There is definitely a lack of formalised bike areas for mountain bike and BMX riders in the Narrabeen to Palm Beach area, and none at all in the Brookvale - Dee Why area apart from illegal ones installed by the kids themselves.
Those for the 'Mona Vale Catchment’ - (which is actually Pittwater) are listed in the document as -
- Bike park (junior) opposite Avalon public school
- Ingleside Chase Reserve - formalise (ILLEGAL) Mona Vale Downhill trail
- Bike park in Warriewood at Lynne Czinner Park
Potential New/or Improved council lists in the draft document are: Provide bike parks in Avalon (Careel Bay), Newport (Trafalgar Park), Mona Vale (Whitney Reserve - formalise illegal dirt jumps), North Narrabeen (North Narrabeen Reserve and Bilarong Reserve) and Elanora Heights Koorangi Reserve - formalise illegal dirt jumps.
The council's document also states an intention to continue to work with NPWS regarding a potential to formalise illegal mountain bike trails at Deep Creek known to riders as Mt Narra, North Narrabeen.
At Deep Creek an environmental review is underway in partnership with the Department of Planning and Environment (DP&E) / National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) due to the unauthorised trail network straddling both Council and NPWS land.
It should be noted the draft document states environmental review and further community consultation is required prior to making a recommendation on these trails. As so many have stated their love of bushwalking, and wildlife, the potential impact of collisions on users on the same trails is another factor, as is whether the council, and ratepayer, will be liable for any medical expenses or worse by riders or their parents taking legal action for accidents that may occur in such parks or on the proposed instances of making legal illegal trails.
The NSW State Government has also recently invited feedback for its own Draft Cycling Strategy and draft Cycling Policy to replace the current Sustainable Mountain Biking Strategy.
Those listed in the draft document for other areas across the LGA include:
Trail/Facility - existing: Manly Dam mountain bike trail and The Grove Bike Park
Supported New/Improved: Manly Dam mountain bike trail improvements and New intermediate to advanced bike park at Seaforth Oval
Potential New/Improved: Manly Dam - formalise illegal Nemesis and Quarry mountain bike trails and Continue to work with Transport for NSW regarding trails interfacing with the Beaches Tunnel project and linkages between Manly Dam and Garigal National Park mountain bike trails, including Possums trail
Trail/Facility - existing: Bare Creek Bike Park, Gahnia and Serrata mountain bike trails (NPWS), and Garigal National Park fire trails
Supported New/Improved: Wyatt Ave, Belrose - Junior/Beginner Bike Park, Forestville Park - formalise illegal Daisy Duke and Missys trails
Potential New/Improved: Forestville Park - investigate formalising illegal Dirty Schnitty trail and links to Garigal National Park, and Lionel Watts - formalise illegal bike dirt jumps
Trail/Facility - existing: JJ Melbourne Hills Memorial Reserve - BMX track, pump track, dirt jump track, dual slalom track and Terrey Hills fire trails (NPWS)
Potential New/Improved: JJ Melbourne Hills Memorial Reserve - formalise illegal Guggenheim, Pony Express and Kamber Climb trails pending Council being appointed manager of Kamber Crown Road Reserve, and Terrey Hills Oval - formalise ilelgal bike dirt jumps
Brookvale - Dee Why: none at present
Potential New/Improved: John Fisher Park - formalise illegal dirt bike jumps near the netball courts, and Maybrook Avenue, Cromer - formalise illegal dirt bike jumps
Council seeks to provide new and improved bike parks across the LGA to better meet the growing needs of riders.
The draft document states; ''‘Twin’ sites may be provided in some areas to cater for progression in skill level. Facilities catering for advanced riders are to be located appropriately near to associated facilities and amenities such as car parking, toilets and water. The bike parks may vary in features and surface from asphalt to dirt depending on the scale and location and need. Community engagement is required, including with neighbouring residents, regarding the design. Roll out of new and improved bike parks depends on availability of resources and funding. Consideration to be made in minimising impact on nearby residents and other use.''
Council consulted through an 'Off road cycling rider survey from January 2020 to February 2020' with 1,770 responses. The survey was promoted via Council’s social media and among key mountain biking and off road cycling groups.
Bushcare volunteers who have worked for decades to restore and rehabilitate these areas are not listed among those consulted for the draft document.
One respondent to the consultations that have taken place so far to shape the draft document stated:
''I write as a WW2 veteran, deeply concerned and opposed to any proposal to extend existing mountain biking or similar activities within Manly Warringah War Memorial State Park - Manly Dam.
Briefly, since boy scouting there in 1936 I have been involved in the ongoing protection conservation, ceremonials and enjoyment of MWWMSP ….
Notwithstanding name changes and incremental intrusions and vandalism at times, this is a natural iconic place. Truly, a spiritual resting haven dedicated “To all who gave their lives, served or are serving Australia in the armed forces, civil support services and those who strive for world peace''.
First and foremost this is a unique war memorial park, dedicated to service and sacrifice in times of peril and to the noble aspiration for world peace…What is the thinking that wants to ignore such a worthy contribution - for the common good - for the satisfaction, knowing the impacts but uncaring of the consequences ?
Considering Council’s leadership in sustainability, environmental policies including climate change awareness, that the “Key elements of the Strategy will be “off road“ cycling trails and facilities “ are incompatible….
Revered, environmentally sensitive and heritage rich areas generally are crucially important and must be protected against degradation from unwarranted development, MWWMSP in particular.
The building of mountain bike trails alone involves the clearing of pristine bushland, the nature and impacts of the activity on wildlife and the environment (including water ways) are devastating and lasting…
Equally important, the role of MWWMSP as a noteworthy place for reflection and contemplation in the peaceful ambience of the Australian bushland, almost in the heart of our county’s largest city….This is capable alongside the passive activities for which people visit and enjoy this place….As a war memorial park it has reached the balance of activities and the capacity for the honourable purpose those visionary WW1 diggers remembered departed comrades... All this a century ago.
Increasingly we are losing our country’s natural environment, it’s ecology which is vital in supporting society’s sustainability….
Activities that promote and involve destruction and harm to life’s main support ie; clean air are ultimately bad for us all…
MWWMSP is currently applying for National Heritage Listing Status, it’s Aboriginal heritage, it’s wealth of native fauna and flora and it’s Role of Honour as a war memorial must ensure that it is not subject to further mountain biking trails…They are incompatible and I believe harmful in any war memorial park. Please accept my strongest opposition to Council’s proposal.''
Another respondent stated:
The open space plan should emphasise the preservation of biodiversity in the many bush reserves that residents value along the peninsula for recreation. Walking tracks, that are not concreted over preferably, to ensure less physical site impact, accompanied by discreet signage, identifying relevant valuable flora and fauna being protected, would enhance the outdoor experience.
We can reduce waste by encouraging picnics, rather than more commercial food outlets located in our open spaces.
Natural, vegetated open spaces like golf courses, parks, and particularly council verges fronting steep sites, all provide valuable sponge-like qualities for absorbing excess water in flooding events. Hard surfaces such as gutters, driveways and drains are frequently unable to manage the excessive runoff, leading to expensive damage to coastal areas, waterways, beaches, infrastructure and the built environment. Roadside verges are under-valued open space and must be kept in a natural state wherever possible, to deal effectively and cheaply with extreme rainfall climate incidents.
It appears our shared natural outdoor spaces are under the onslaught of an introduced species – the dog! Demands for dog access to be prioritised, where other endangered species are threatened, is an ongoing issue in the management of our coastal recreation areas. Many of us treasure the unique natural flora and fauna still found here and want it to be carefully protected from introduced species.
Therefore we suggest that an education campaign, publicity and promotions regarding the benefits of protecting biodiversity in sensitive environments - such as remaining intact bush, plus coastal wetlands, foreshores, mangroves etc, be instigated. Users must be made aware that we need to support these integral ecosystems under climate stress. Close enforcement of regulations where dogs have access to sensitive coastal environments is required, backed by an investment in more rangers.
Coastal recreation areas, including beaches, pools, parks and reserves will need to consider the impacts of sea level rise with new research suggesting sea level rise will triple current estimates. Realistically there will need to be reclamation of those identified low lying sites at risk of inundation, with buffer zones designated as future open spaces along beachfronts. Council will need to include IPCC sea level rise benchmarks in their adaptation plans, re-assess approval processes and draft planning guidelines that will protect these vulnerable sites from inappropriate developments. Built sea walls are not a sustainable solution and just push the problem elsewhere, damaging beaches.
The NBC should investigate acquiring some remaining blocks of vacant land. The key ones are 120 Mona Vale Rd, which has very limited access through the Uniting Church property and therefore is unsuitable for housing, as well as blocks 117 and 119 on Mona Vale Rd. Owned by NSW RMS, it is important for wildlife access that this plan proceeds, so that the link with Katandra Bushland Sanctuary is completed.
Given the identified shortage of playing fields, particularly netball courts, on the northern beaches, we believe that the expanse of flat land in front of the house would make excellent playing fields - or a fabulous community garden, as this fertile area in Mona Vale /Ingleside has traditionally been used for farming. We bought our vegetables directly from the market gardeners located here. Hopefully NB council will consider the benefits for the community by acquiring this unique open space, because the proximity of the nearby bushland and the significant fire risk, makes this site a rather dubious location for 81 dwellings, in this as yet, unbuilt, very large, proposed residential development. We appreciate the opportunity to engage with your open space and recreation strategy
The rest of Pittwater and the broader LGA may now have their say until Sunday 14 August 2022 at: yoursay.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/open-space-and-recreation-strategy
one example of what has occurred in Crescent Reserve: image supplied